In December 2018, Trump administration formally scrapped restorative justice in schools, after the Education and Justice Dept. finalised the rollback.
One of the fundamental principles of restorative justice is to focus on repairing harm rather than punishing offenders. It believes offenders are usually capable of remorse and change, and victims are better served by processes that meet their specific needs rather than punishing the harmers. Under the Obama administration, in a 2014 guidance, schools were urged not to suspend, expel or report students to the police except in the most extreme cases. Instead, the guidance called for a variety of ‘restorative justice’ remedies that didn’t remove students from the classroom. The guidance was issued after finding that black students were more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled.
This guidance came under fire after a gunman killed 17 students and staff at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Many conservatives suggested the guidance discouraged school officials from reporting the shooter’s past behavioral problems to police. Following this in 2018, the Trump administration formally scrapped this policy. In revoking the rule, federal officials added they won’t intervene with schools’ disciplinary decisions as long as they don’t violate federal discrimination laws. The Education and Justice department, led by Betsy DeVos, finalized the rollback and stated that classroom teachers and local school leaders deserve autonomy in implementing disciplinary actions.